Andy Martin of SNY.tv reported the Astros have sought revenge against "haters," including teams like the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers. All four clubhouses have had outspoken critics of Houston in wake of the team's sign-stealing scandal.
Houston's Lance McCullers Jr. and Josh Reddick later took to Twitter to publicly deny the report:
While the Astros got into their share of public back-and-forths with opponents, it was not the bean-ball fest many expected. No Astros hitter was struck by a pitch more than five times, and MLB curtailed acts of retaliation with harsh punishments.
"All the Dodgers fans that probably still hold that grudge are going to be out here voicing their opinion," outfielder Josh Reddick told reporters. "It's all about silencing the haters, that's what all this year was about. The trash talk seems to be a little bit more running, and I love it."
After a disappointing regular season saw Houston barely sneak into the playoffs—with many calling it a comeuppance—the Astros have reeled off four straight wins in the postseason and look like the best team in the American League.
Houston's won each of its four games by at least two runs and has a 22-11 overall run differential. Their run differential in the playoffs is better than what it was the entire regular season.
If the Astros continue playing the way they have been, 2020 may turn into the year of the villain.